The Japanese Communist Party replied to a questionnaire from Ronza, the monthly magazine published by the Asahi Newspaper, on the "Hinomaru" flag and the song "Kimigayo." The magazine's March issue features a "Study on 'Hinomaru and Kimigayo'" and asks the political parties and major newspapers "What is your view on 'Hinomaru and Kimigayo'?" with three questions as follows:
(1) What is your view on 'Hinomaru and Kimigayo'?" (Do you recognize it as the national flag and the national anthem, or don't you recognize them as such, no declared attitude, is the Hinomaru draped in the entrance hall of the main office, how does it feature in the induction ceremony for new employees? etc.)
(2) The Hinomaru flag and the song "Kimigayo" are regarded by Asian countries, particularly China, North Korea and South Korea, as symbolizing Japan's aggression, which is a major reason for their great dislike of them. As regards foreign relations, how do you handle this question, for example, in your coverage of the Olympic Games?
(3) In school ceremonies such as those for graduation and initiation, how the Hinomaru flag and the song "Kimigayo" should feature in them is often a contentious issue. What is your view of this situation and what do you suggest is the best thing to do?
The JCP's answers are as follows:
(1) The JCP is opposed to the song "Kimigayo" and the Hinomaru flag being treated as the national anthem and the national flag.
The song "Kimigayo" was composed in 1880 at the request of the Naval Ministry, and because from 1900 it was mandatory for it to be sung at ceremonies in primary schools, it came to be regarded in the prewar period as the national anthem. The lyrics glorify the Tenno (emperor) reign over Japan, which are incompatible with the present Constitution which provides for the people to be the sovereign power.
The Hinomaru flag has a longer history, but the 1870 Meiji Cabinet decree for it to become the Army and the Navy's flag was the first decision in relation to a national flag. During the Pacific War it was used as a symbol of Japan's war of aggression, and for this reason it is still very disliked by many people, with no national consensus on its use. Germany and Italy, which like Japan were the aggressors in the Second World War, don't have the national flags they used in WWII as their present national flags.
The second and more serious reason is that now Kimigayo and Hinomaru are being unilaterally regarded with no legal basis as the being treated as national flag and national anthem simply on the grounds of "social custom." This is extraordinary in the world. All the G7 countries, except Britain which has no written constitution, have a legal basis for such in their constitutions and laws.
To settle the question of the national anthem and the national flag in democratic way, it is necessary for the government at least to end its present unilateral and high-handed imposition of them on society with no national consensus and to put forward a legal basis for them. In doing this, the matter must not be dealt with based simply on a majority decision of the Diet. The government must guarantee a process of adequate discussion among the people for the purpose of getting a national consensus on the question.
To give the matter a legal basis will also allow for the possibility of a democratic change in the event of the people changing their will, which accords with the principle of people's sovereignty.
(2) Based on the position as stated in point one, the JCP does not treat the song Kimigayo and the Hinomaru flag as respectively Japan's national anthem and Japan's national flag in our foreign relations.
(3) The compulsory singing of Kimigayo and displaying the Hinomaru flag in school ceremonies must end. Such compulsion is clearly illegal because at present there is no legal basis for it. Even if this was made legal by a law being enacted, this would mean that the state could officially present them as "the symbol of the state and the unity of the people." But this would not justify their continued imposition in education and on individual people. Our studies have shown that singing a national anthem and flying a national flag are only compulsory in schools in just a few exceptional countries in the world. (end)
Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi on March 2 instructed Hiromu Nonaka, chief cabinet secretary, to study the question of legislation for making "Hinomaru" (Rising Sun) flag and the song "Kimigayo" (For Emperor reign forever) the national flag and the national anthem respectively. Kazuo Shii, Japanese Communist Party Secretariat head, in an press conference on the day made the JCP's position on the matter clear. Excerpts from Shii's remarks are as follows:
The latest government move has been triggered by the regrettable suicide of a high school principal in Hiroshima Prefecture. This shows that the unreasonable imposition (of Hinomaru and Kimigayo) on education with no popular consensus and legal basis for their use is a bankrupt policy, and the contradictions brought about by such imposition are erupting.
The song "Kimigayo" is, as its lyrics make clear, a song in praise of the Tenno (emperor) as the ruler of Japan, which is diametrically opposed to the Constitution's major principle that the people are sovereign.
Of the three aggressor countries in the Second World War, Germany, Italy and Japan, only Japan still uses the same flag it used during the war of aggression as its national flag today. For these reasons the JCP is opposed to making the "Kimigayo" song as the national anthem and the Hinomaru flag as the national flag.
On the question of legislation, the JCP, based firmly on this position, will examine all relevant problems, calmly with reason and firmness, in Diet debates and in various popular discussion forums. Guarantees for there to be provision for thorough discussion among the people must take place before there is any legislation on the matter. The JCP wants to appeal to the people to support its opposition to making the Hinomaru flag and the Kimigayo song the national flag and the national anthem.
In the event of the Diet actually enacting a law for this, the terms of such a law must not by any means be imposed on individuals and education. Even in countries which have laws for their national flags and national anthems, these are not imposed on the people and society.
Imposing the display of the Hinomaru flag and the singing of the Kimigayo song represents immeasurable pressure on education, which is causing a lot of unnecessary strife. This must be ended at once, before any steps are taken about the national flag and national anthem question. (end)